SPOKANE – A Boston company is looking at three sites in Washington to possibly manufacture a supersonic jet now in the early stages of development.
Spike Aerospace is designing an 18-passenger supersonic jet that could fly from New York to Los Angeles in just over three hours. The privately held company is one of three U.S. startups looking to revive supersonic technology with a focus on premium business travelers.
At an aerospace conference last month in Lynnwood, Washington, Spike's chief executive officer Vik Kachoria said the company is considering Spokane, Moses Lake and Everett for the factory.
The Spokesman-Review reported Tuesday that the state Department of Commerce last week approved a grant to speed up development of land currently owned by Spokane International Airport. Local officials said an out-of-state aerospace company has expressed "great interest" in building a factory on the site, but they declined to name the company.
In a phone call Monday, Spike Kachoria declined to say if Spike is that company.
The Department of Commerce granted the airport $20,800 for an environmental review of the land, which officials hope to complete by next June.
According to preliminary plans filed with the state, the unnamed company wants to build a 305,000-square-foot facility producing aircraft parts that would employ 100 engineers and 200 technicians.
The facility would cost about $90.5 million and occupy a 40-acre swath of land.
Spokane County Commissioner Al French said the environmental clearance will save time and money for whatever company buys the property.
"This is part of our continuing effort to make sure that we have shovel-ready sites for development," he said.
Spike Aerospace has been working on designs for about three years and now employs about 45 engineers, Kachoria said.
He envisions flying a small-scale prototype in late 2018 and delivering the first full-scale jet by 2023.
The market for supersonic passenger jets has been dormant since the British-French Concorde airliner went out of service in 2003.
The Concorde never fared well economically, and its popularity dwindled after a crash in Paris killed 113 people in 2000.
Spike faces competition from two other supersonic-jet startups with major financial backing.
One is Reno, Nevada-based Aerion, which has partnered with Airbus and is financed by Texas billionaire Robert Bass.
The other is Boom, a Colorado company that plans to fly its first prototype in 2017 and already has orders pending from Richard Branson's Virgin Group.